Background: This study evaluated the specific subset composition of lymphocytes present in Helicobacter pylori-associated gastritis (HAG), since reports so far have led to inconclusive and conflicting results.
Methods: Endoscopic biopsy specimens from 56 patients were studied by quantitative immunohistochemistry using monoclonal antibodies against the lymphocyte markers CD3, CD22, CD4, CD8, CD45RO, CD1O3, TCR alpha/beta, and TCR gamma/delta. Lamina propria and intraepithelial compartments were evaluated separately. Grade, activity, and density of bacterial colonisation were assessed histologically and with Warthin-Starry stain.
Results: Evaluation showed a significant increase in CD4+, CD45RO+, TCR alpha/beta+ activated lamina propria lymphocytes in HAG which correlated with grade and activity of gastritis and degree of bacterial colonisation, whereas subsets of intraepithelial lymphocytes did not change significantly. TCR gamma/delta+ T cells were not found to be increased in HAG.
Conclusions: Selective expansion of CD4+, CD45RO+ memory-type T cells could reflect an antigen-specific and/or chemokine-mediated effect in HAG. Locally produced CC chemokines such as RANTES have been detected in HAG.